In a completely frustrating, but not all that surprising, piece of news, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is recommending that the commission approve Charter Communications’ plan to buy Time Warner. This could make things so much worse.
Wheeler claimed in a statement that the proposal “outlines a number of conditions in place for seven years that will directly benefit consumers by bringing and protecting competition to the video marketplace and increasing broadband deployment.” So for just seven years, the megacorporation will not be allowed to have data caps or usage-based pricing and cannot charge special fees to heavy traffic providers.
Well thank God the internet and television is only going to exist for seven years. Otherwise, in less than a decade, a giant communications monolith would be legally allowed to do whatever it wanted to crush competition.
Wheeler continued on to say:
If the conditions are approved by my colleagues, an additional two million customer locations will have access to a high-speed connection. At least one million of those connections will be in competition with another high-speed broadband provider in the market served, bringing innovation and new choices for consumers, and demonstrate the viability of one broadband provider overbuilding another.
In other words, Time Warner Charter (or whatever it chooses to be called) has also promised to acquire two million more customers, and it will do so in some areas where other service providers (Cablevision, probably) already exist. That gives people a grand total of two choices.
This doesn’t “demonstrate the viability of one broadband provider overbuilding another,” it’s just lip service to the idea that these companies don’t have a monopoly on what is a vital service in today’s world.
This is horrible news with horrible consequences.